Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel said he is saddened by Edinson Cavani's situation as the out-of-favour forward struggles for game time.

Cavani – out of contract at the end of the season – came off the bench in PSG's 2-0 Ligue 1 victory against Nantes on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old, who has been linked to MLS outfit LA Galaxy, David Beckham's Inter Miami, Serie A champions Juventus and LaLiga side Atletico Madrid, was an 87th-minute substitute in Paris midweek.

Cavani has only started four Ligue 1 fixtures this season and five across all competitions in 2019-20.

Asked about the Uruguay international, Tuchel told reporters: "I spoke with him. We both know it's very difficult for him. It's not only a difficult decision for me, it's also sad.

"We played a lot of games with three strikers including one number nine. Cavani was injured at the beginning of the season, it's not his fault. Mauro [Icardi] played very well during that period, he scored a lot.

"If we play in 4-3-3, we have three extraordinary players for a position in front [as number nine], Kylian [Mbappe], Mauro and him. I'm sad because I don't have a solution [to include him in the line-up] right now.

"He doesn't deserve that, he's very professional, in a good state of mind in the locker room, he gives a good energy to the team. But right now I don't have much playing time to give him."

Cavani, who arrived from Napoli in 2013-14, has scored twice for Tuchel's French champions this term.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel said he could not explain his side's laboured performance in their 2-0 win against Nantes, admitting he noticed a lack of confidence among his players.

Kylian Mbappe scored after 52 minutes to give the Ligue 1 champions the lead at Parc des Princes and Neymar converted an 85th-minute penalty to make sure of the result, but Nantes missed numerous opportunities to get back on level terms.

PSG had Keylor Navas to thank for a string of fine saves on Wednesday that ensured the league leaders extended the gap at the top of Ligue 1 to five points over second-placed Marseille.

However, Tuchel was asked afterwards to explain why PSG's performance was not more convincing midweek.

"I do not know," he told Canal Plus. "It's a good question.

"I am convinced that we have desire but it is hard. It was hard today and we feel like it's hard for us for a few games now. My team has desire but it's hard for us.

"We lost four balls in the first four minutes - easy balls! This is not possible if you want to control a match, play offensively and be the team that has possession."

Boasting a five-point cushion over Marseille and a game in hand, PSG travel to Montpellier on Saturday with no reason to panic about the state of their title campaign.

But Tuchel, who must prepare his players for the visit of Galatasaray in the Champions League on December 11, said he would analyse the performance against Nantes to ascertain why performance levels have dipped.

He said: "We show desire but we lose confidence. We make bad decisions right now, we do not play free.

"I do not know, maybe it's not the only reason, but I'll watch the game again tomorrow [Thursday]."

Kylian Mbappe scored a sublime goal and Neymar converted a penalty as Paris Saint-Germain beat Nantes 2-0 to extend their Ligue 1 winning streak to three matches.

Mbappe, restored to the starting line-up at Mauro Icardi's expense, opened the scoring after 52 minutes with a deft backheel and Neymar netted five minutes from the end on a night when both players could have increased their side's advantage.

But PSG's finishing was as inconsistent as their defending and it was only by virtue of a lack of quality in the Nantes attack that Thomas Tuchel's league-leading side emerged with all three points.

Yet with a five-point cushion now and a game in hand on second-placed Marseille, the champions proved yet again that they can win without playing anywhere near their best.

PSG's dominance of Ligue 1 is such that they rarely come out all guns blazing, and the only clear chance of the early exchanges saw Ludovic Blas fire wide for Nantes from just outside the box.

Blas drew a good save from Keylor Navas after 27 minutes, the PSG goalkeeper getting down smartly to turn a low drive around his near post.

Neymar, having spent much of the game protesting against Nantes challenges, steered the ball into the net four minutes from half-time only to see his effort ruled out for a challenge by Julian Draxler on Imran Louza during the build-up.

Neymar missed a one-on-one chance in first-half stoppage-time and the champions piled forward again straight after the interval, Mbappe having a thunderous shot saved moments before he let Angel Di Maria's cross run between his legs and cleverly diverted it past goalkeeper Alban Lafont.

Nantes continued to threaten on the counter-attack and Navas made a strong save from Louza before a moment of madness saw substitute Icardi win a penalty.

Nicolas Pallois' backwards header was bound for Icardi who was pushed from behind by Labont and Neymar buried the ensuing penalty at the second attempt to make sure of the victory.

What does it mean? Relief for Neymar

With Mbappe justifying his inclusion ahead of Icardi with a goal, there was an uneasiness about Neymar until he found the net from the penalty spot - his first goal since recovering from a hamstring injury.

Navas plays a key role

PSG had enough chances to win the game comfortably but also afforded Nantes more space than Tuchel would have liked, and he had Navas to thank for a number of timely saves to preserve his side's clean sheet.

Not Louza's night

Nantes midfielder Louza breathed a sigh of relief when VAR ruled out a Neymar goal for which he would have likely been blamed, but he later fluffed his lines when presented with a clear chance to equalise.

What's next?

PSG face a difficult trip to in-form Montpellier on Saturday, while Nantes entertain struggling Dijon on Sunday.

Leon Goretzka praised Hansi Flick following reports Bayern Munich are looking to unite him with Thomas Tuchel in a new coaching team.

German publication Bild suggested interim boss Flick could be kept on as an assistant at Allianz Arena if the Bundesliga side succeed in prising Tuchel from Paris Saint-Germain.

Flick took charge in a caretaker capacity following Niko Kovac's departure in November and has overseen four wins and a defeat in all competitions.

Chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reaffirmed his support for the 54-year-old following the weekend loss to Bayer Leverkusen, a result midfielder Goretzka insisted was not Flick's fault.

"He told us what we did well and what we did badly," the Germany international told news portal T-Online.

"We knew how we wanted to defend the counter-attack, but in the moment we did not do it well. But that will be different in the next games."

Goretzka added: "He's doing a very good job.

"The coach question is not for me to decide, that's what others do. But he definitely recommended himself [through Bayern's results] in the last few weeks."

Goretzka made his second Bundesliga start of the season in the Leverkusen encounter and will hope for further opportunities to press his case for Euro 2020 selection with Germany.

Joachim Low's men have been dealt a tough draw for the tournament, with holders Portugal and World Cup winners France joining them in Group F.

"What is difficult for me to understand is how such a group can come about," Goretzka said.

"I don't think we will go in as favourites, as we would normally expect at a European Championship.

"Nevertheless, we always have the claim to progress. I do not see any problem either. They are big challenges.

"We will try to spark euphoria in the country with the fans behind us and then continue on our way."

Paris Saint-Germain will be without Marco Verratti when they take on Nantes on Wednesday.

Italy international Verratti came back from a knee injury in the 2-2 draw against Real Madrid on November 26, but a thigh issue sustained in training later that week resulted in a return to the treatment room.

Despite PSG being granted a matchday off when rain forced the postponement of their Ligue 1 meeting with Monaco on Sunday, the 27-year-old remains sidelined with fellow midfielder Ander Herrera, who has not played for a month due to a hamstring problem.

"Marco Verratti and Ander Herrera are injured and Presnel Kimpembe is suspended. All the others are fit," said Tuchel.

"Not playing on Sunday was a surprise. We had prepared the game, announced the starting 11 to the players, had a tactical meeting and then the game was postponed.

"I had an idea for Monaco, and a different one for Nantes. But without playing Sunday's game, it makes a difference. We've adapted. We took the return flight and then trained on Monday. I am convinced that we will be ready on Wednesday.

"We are expecting Nantes in a 4-4-2. They started the season well, with many good results. It has been more difficult in recent weeks, but they won their last game. They're a very strong team, defending together. So it will be a tough game for us, but I think we're ready."

PSG captain Thiago Silva will be out of contract at the Parc des Princes at the end of the season and Tuchel was unable to offer an update on the Brazilian's future.

"It is not my decision. It is something between the player, his agent and the club. The coach just gives their opinion," Tuchel said.

"We have to wait, to be patient. We prefer to talk about it if we have something to say. Thiago Silva is our captain. There is nothing new about this."

Thomas Tuchel explained that Neymar trained alone on Friday in order to safeguard his recovery from a hamstring injury, and the Paris Saint-Germain coach confirmed the forward is fit to face Monaco.

The Ligue 1 leaders face 13th-placed Monaco at Stade Louis II on Sunday, and Tuchel said the club has been carefully managing Neymar's fitness in order to ensure his availability.

The Brazil international played the second half of PSG's 2-2 draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, yet Tuchel opted to keep him isolated from the squad during training.

Explaining why, he told reporters: "Because he felt something in the adductors after the game, we didn't take any risks.

"So he did individual training. That way, we can control it better. Today [Saturday] he trained with us without any problem, I think.

"He's with the team, he can play."

PSG's equaliser against Madrid came from Pablo Sarabia, who score eight minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute in a frantic spell.

Tuchel was pleased to see his €18million pre-season signing from Sevilla among the goals as he explained the challenge facing Sarabia as he adapts to his new, deeper midfield role.

"It's difficult for him to get a job like [he had] at Sevilla," Tuchel said of Sarabia. "At Sevilla, he had a position a little similar to that of Angel Di Maria here, or that of Ney [Neymar] or Kylian [Mbappe].

"He is a key player on the field. We recruited him because he is able to take responsibility, to play 50 or 60 matches per season. But now he has another role.

"He must adapt to our game, to our players. But he has played a lot of matches and he is very important to us because he gives intensity with and without the ball. He has aggression and we lack that in our game.

"He defends well, too. He is reliable and responsible. He has a good influence on our team.

"I'm very happy that it's him who scored [against Madrid] because he always gives everything during training."

Thomas Tuchel said he benched Neymar for the player's own good against Real Madrid and did not fear upsetting the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Neymar, a starter against Lille on Friday, was introduced at half-time of a rollicking 2-2 Champions League draw in Madrid on Tuesday. 

PSG trailed to Karim Benzema's opener when the Brazilian entered the game and fell further behind when the Madrid striker nodded in Marcelo's cross, before Kylian Mbappe and Pablo Sarabia struck in quick succession to force a share of the spoils.

Tuchel admitted ahead of the Madrid showdown that Neymar could at times be tough to manage but insisted his reduced role at the Santiago Bernabeu was a direct result of his recent hamstring injury.

"No, I'm not afraid [of the ramifications], I don't think we are going to lose Neymar," the PSG boss said.

"We have a connection, we are honest. I talked to him and told him that I would rather he play in the second half and start on the bench. We did the same thing with Kylian away to Galatasaray.

"He's been absent for six weeks, he only played one game before this one and for me it was not worth taking that risk.

"Every month he missed a few days. I made the decision for him, for his health."

Despite being outplayed for 80 minutes in the Spanish capital, PSG did enough to confirm top spot in Group A.

Visitors PSG had goalkeeper Keylor Navas to thank for a series of excellent stops that prevented his former employers from taking a decisive lead.

Tuchel said: "Real were the better team for a long time. We played too complicated, not quick enough, not simple enough, not with confidence. Real played with a lot of confidence.

"They showed that this is a team that won the Champions League three times in a row.

"We had an extraordinary goalkeeper with Keylor Navas. We were lucky, it's not forbidden. After the goal, we were freer.

"There are some positive things to remember. The mentality at the end, the quality of the guys who came on, Ney and Pablo and [Julian] Draxler made the difference. We have 13 points from five games."

Neymar's "provocative" tendencies make him a handful but Thomas Tuchel says Paris Saint-Germain cannot win trophies without him and Kylian Mbappe.

PSG refused to let Brazil star Neymar return to Barcelona in the close season after the clubs failed to agree on a fee for the world's most expensive player.

Neymar upset supporters in Paris with his pleas to leave but a return of four goals in six Ligue 1 games amid injury troubles have helped prove his commitment to the cause.

Head coach Tuchel, however, admits it can be tough to keep the 27-year-old in line.

He told France Info: "[It's] not easy at all! He has a big, big heart, but unfortunately, he doesn't always show that he's a generous, reliable boy.

"Sometimes he's provocative and it's a great pity because it's not necessary."

"I tell him. We laugh a lot together and I always try to tell the truth," Tuchel continued.

"He accepts it, but it's hard. Ney is provocative when he feels something is wrong, but he isn't when he is calm."

PSG paid €222million to sign Neymar in 2017 with a view to him spearheading their bid for Champions League glory.

Successive last-16 exits have instead added to the doubt over his future along with that of Kylian Mbappe, who regards last season's European failure as a key reason he will not win the Ballon d'Or this year.

Real Madrid reportedly want the talented 20-year-old but Tuchel insists PSG cannot afford to lose either of their valuable attacking assets.

"He can definitely do better. He must and he can," the German said of Mbappe.

"He has the opportunity to win everything, individually and as a team. He's a key player for us. It's not possible to win anything without Ney or without Kylian.

"They are truly exceptional players. Really exceptional. Mbappe is super young. He has to protect himself and improve himself every day.

"He can win everything."

PSG face Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday knowing a point will be enough to seal top spot in Group A.

Thomas Tuchel has suggested Zinedine Zidane loves Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe more because he is unattainable.

Speaking ahead of Real Madrid and PSG's Champions League clash on Tuesday, Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane reaffirmed his admiration for the France international, saying: "I am already in love with him."

Tuchel laughed off suggestions he was angry with Zidane for his remarks, stating he is not the only one who loves the 20-year-old World Cup winner.

"I don't know how in love Zidane is with Mbappe, but we really love our player," he told a media conference.  

"The most important thing is that he is our player. We are happy to have him with us. When you can't have things you want, you want it even more."

PSG blew Madrid away 3-0 in their opening Group A game in September, but Tuchel is expecting a far tougher test at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"It is a different game for many reasons," he added. "Firstly, we are playing in Madrid – one of the hardest stadiums to play in. Madrid have leaders and captains all over the pitch.

"Now they are playing well and are in great form. They have a lot more victories and don't concede a lot of goals.

"It's really hard to play against Madrid now, especially when they are at home. But we are a well-balanced team. We are dangerous and we will pose a challenge for them.

"I'm really convinced it is time to grab the opportunity because we can be really dangerous if we work together and if we are patient. It is a good time to show people and prove that we are able to play a great game and a really hard one like this."

The Ligue 1 champions have already qualified for the knockout stages after winning all four of their group games.

Tuchel has demanded his side plays with the same intensity that has characterised their campaign so far when they face off against Zidane's men.

"We have showed great intensity with the ball during the group stage and it has been really impressive," he said.

"This is the key. Without the work of the whole team it is not possible to win games in the Champions League. If we want to win against Madrid it is mandatory to play like that. That will be the challenge and we have set the benchmark."

Kylian Mbappe tipped Barcelona's Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d'Or and admitted that he has suffered from bouts of self-doubt during an injury-plagued year at Paris Saint-Germain.

France international Mbappe was fourth in the shortlist for the 2018 Ballon d'Or and won the Kopa Trophy, presented to the best-performing player under the age of 21.

After scoring 33 goals in 29 Ligue 1 appearances for the French champions in 2018-19, Mbappe has been restricted to just five starts this term.

He has nevertheless scored five league goals but backed the legendary Messi to collect the gong for world's best player for a sixth time, telling Spiegel: "In individual terms he [Messi] was the best this year."

"Sometimes I'm worried," Mbappe continued. "I'm scared, if you fail as a player, you have doubts, and when you lose in a big match, the question is, is this the end of it? It was nice, but now it's over!

"But it does not last long, because the good thing about football is that you do not have much time to think."

Mbappe has scored nine goals in 12 games across all competitions in 2019-20 despite spending much of the campaign sidelined by hamstring, thigh and adductor problems.

He said another issue affecting him at PSG is the language barrier between him and German coach Thomas Tuchel, but said the 46-year-old makes certain words loud and clear.

"Unfortunately, I do not know nice words in German," said Mbappe.

"Just swear words like s***, my trainer is German and he always says that when something bugs him: s***, s***!"

Neymar had a "bad performance" on his return for Paris Saint-Germain, according to coach Thomas Tuchel, who nonetheless defended the fit-again forward.

The Brazil star had been out of action for a month with an injury sustained on international duty but started for PSG at home to Lille in Ligue 1 on Friday.

Neymar had a hand in PSG's second goal in a 2-0 win that moved the champions 11 points clear at the top of the table.

However, in his 65 minutes on the pitch, he failed to record a single shot or key pass and completed only 63.9 per cent of his passes on an underwhelming return to action.

Tuchel, though, was not expecting a top performance given his time on the sidelines.

"No, I'm not worried by his bad performance," Tuchel told reporters of Neymar's display. "I do not know if it's normal. 

"I did not expect much from him because he missed six weeks. It's a lot for someone like him, who needs pace for everything he does. 

"He missed precision today, timing. But it's like that. He had to play a few minutes."

Neymar was replaced by Kylian Mbappe and went straight down the tunnel rather than watch the rest of the game from the bench.

"It's normal. Many players enter the locker room directly," was Tuchel's view. 

"I did not see that because I was focused on the game, changing tactics. 

"We have to talk about this thing internally. But we are not going to talk about it too much now."

Goals from Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria in the first half saw PSG to a routine victory at Parc des Princes.

"They are fit, and strong together," Tuchel said of the Argentina duo. "Both stayed with us during the [international] break.

"That's good because you can manage them and keep them fresh. Both are decisive and score goals. And they work for the team and it makes a huge difference for us."

Neymar is back in the Paris Saint-Germain side to face Lille in Ligue 1 on Friday after recovering from injury.

The Brazil forward has been out of action for a month after sustaining a hamstring injury while on international duty.

But PSG coach Thomas Tuchel indicated in a pre-match news conference that Neymar was ready to return and he is in the XI to take on fifth-placed Lille.

Kylian Mbappe has been passed fit to start in attack with Neymar after recovering from illness.

Keylor Navas is back in goal for the Ligue 1 champions, replacing Sergio Rico, after the Costa Rica international missed PSG's win at Brest last due to a groin injury.

Christophe Galtier's side have won just one of their last six Ligue 1 games while PSG are unbeaten in their 19 home Ligue 1 matches against Lille.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are back in the Paris Saint-Germain squad to face Lille in Ligue 1 on Friday.

Both of Thomas Tuchel's star forwards have endured injury interrupted campaigns so far.

Neymar missed the start of the season as he completed his rehabilitation from ankle ligament damage but returned in style with four goals in five Ligue 1 outings.

A hamstring injury sustained while on duty with Brazil last month left him back on the sidelines but Tuchel told reporters on Thursday the world's most expensive footballer had resumed training.

Mbappe has nine goals in 11 games across all competitions in 2019-20 despite being compromised by hamstring, thigh and adductor problems, before illness placed his participation in the game at the Parc des Princes in doubt.

The attacking duo return in time for a pivotal week, with trips to Real Madrid and Monaco on the horizon.

PSG are eight points clear of Marseille at the top of Ligue 1 table and they are five points better off than Madrid thanks to a perfect record from four Champions League group matches to date.

Right-back Thomas Meunier is back from a hamstring injury but midfielders Marco Verratti (knee) and Ander Herrera (thigh) remain among the absentees.

Neymar is ready to return to action for Paris Saint-Germain against Lille on Saturday, but the Ligue 1 champions could be without Kylian Mbappe.

The Brazil superstar has not featured for his club since sustaining a hamstring injury during the October international break, continuing a tale of fitness woe that has stained his time at the Parc des Princes.

Speaking at a pre-match news conference, head coach Thomas Tuchel confirmed Neymar would be available for a mouth-watering week of fixtures, with trips to Real Madrid and Monaco coming after Lille's visit to the French capital.

"Neymar feels good," Tuchel said. "He has trained well and will be in the group for tomorrow's match, but he will not be able to play 90 minutes.

"He will bring us quality and decisive things. When he is with us, we are super dangerous. That is necessary if we want to continue to win

"Lille, Real Madrid and Monaco represent three challenging games for us."

Mbappe has often stepped up in Neymar's absence, but the France forward has been laid low by illness having already suffered hamstring, thigh and groin setbacks this term.

"He had a fever, he has to start training today, we have to wait," said Tuchel, who will be without midfield duo Marco Verratti (knee) and Ander Herrera (thigh).

Neymar's rehabilitation took in a trip to watch the Davis Cup in Madrid this week, something which neither delighted nor angered his boss.

"What can I do? I'm not his father, nor the police. I am just his coach," Tuchel added.

"He trained well. Did I enjoy his trip to Madrid? No. But he was very professional during those two weeks.

"He did more than others, working with the group and also individually. If all goes well, he can play [against Lille]. Tomorrow we will decide".

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel says Edinson Cavani will need to learn how to manage the competition with Mauro Icardi for a starting berth in attack.

Cavani made his first start for PSG since August 25 in Saturday's 2-1 win over Brest but struggled to make an impact at Stade Francis-Le Ble.

He was replaced in the 80th minute by Icardi, who scored the winner five minutes later after Samuel Grandsir had cancelled out Angel Di Maria's first-half opener.

Tuchel conceded Cavani lacked rhythm against Brest and has challenged the Uruguay international to relish the competition for places in attack.

"It's not easy to play against this team here for an attacker," he told Canal+.

"He [Cavani] lacks rhythm. He must manage this competition. It's like that for his job. It's always difficult for an attacker, a very sensitive position. But we have no choice but to accept this situation and work hard. 

"Sometimes you are in a phase where you feel good. There is a bit of luck and everything goes perfectly. Mauro is in this phase."

PSG were far from their fluid best but did enough to ensure they returned to winning ways domestically after a shock defeat to Dijon last time out.

Tuchel, who made six changes from the side that beat Club Brugge in the Champions League in midweek, praised his side after they became the first side to beat Brest at home this season.

"I really like this victory," he added. "A lot of changes have been made, including players lacking rhythm and confidence like Layvin [Kurzawa], Edinson [Cavani] and [Julian] Draxler. The changes were necessary to stay fresh. 

"It was not easy in the first period with the wind against us. We had opportunities to accelerate but we made technical mistakes. The second period was easier to control but we gave an opportunity to the opponent, who scored. 

"A good reaction was shown afterwards. I felt like we really believed it. We deserved to win. We are the first to win here! [this season]"

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